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CHAPTER 1 Introduction Demand-response transportation (DRT) systems--from large metropolitan services to small, community-based programs--face pressures to improve performance, with increasing demand for service and financial constraints. To improve performance, the characteristics of DRT and the factors that impact performance must be understood. Consistently defined data and clearly defined performance measures are also needed so that DRT performance can be evaluated in a systematic manner. Assessments of DRT performance, both individual system evaluations over time as well as peer comparisons across the industry, will then be more reliable and meaningful. 1.1 Development of Guidebook and Relationship to TCRP Report 124 This Guidebook has been prepared under TCRP Project B-31, "Guidebook for Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance of Demand-Response Transportation." The stated objec- tive of the research project was to develop a resource that provides guidance for measuring, eval- uating, and improving DRT performance with a methodology that recognizes the diversity of DRT services, service areas, and passengers. The research project has resulted in two guidebooks. The first focused on DRT systems in urban areas and was published in 2008 as TCRP Report 124: Guidebook for Measuring, Assessing, and Improving Performance of Demand-Response Transportation. This is TCRP Project B-13's second guidebook and, given the important distinctions between DRT in rural and urban areas, it addresses rural DRT. Early efforts in the research project established that rural DRT systems have very different characteristics and data-collection issues relative to performance measurement compared with urban DRT systems. The research project's panel then determined that a separate guidebook for rural DRT was needed to adequately address performance measurement and improvement for rural systems. The research team followed a similar methodology in developing the Guidebook for rural DRT as was followed for the project's first guidebook, which has included Developing a typology of rural DRT systems based on criteria affecting performance, Defining key performance data and a limited set of performance measures for DRT, Identifying the various factors that influence DRT performance, Collecting performance data from DRT systems representative of the defined categories, Identifying actions that rural DRT systems have implemented to improve their perfor- mance, and Documenting quantitative and qualitative effects on performance from those actions. 1